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Can I Charge My RV Battery While It Is Connected?

This is a common question, especially among new RV owners. After all, a batter is of utmost importance. Without a battery, your RV is not going to function. The battery is what provides power to your RV the way electricity powers homes across the US.

The quick answer to this question is yes. Your RV battery will charge when plugged in- but it’s a trickle charge. This means the electrolytes will be consumed. You’ll need to check the condition of your battery after having it plugged in for an extended period of time.

In this article, we’ll explore more about RV batteries and how to properly maintain them.

Will an RV Battery Charge when Plugged in?

As we mentioned above, yes- your RV battery will charge when it’s plugged in. However, as we also mentioned, it’s a trickle charge, which consumes the electrolytes. Therefore, when your RV is plugged into shore power for an extended period of time, you’ll want to check the condition of the battery when you disconnect.

The best way to charge your RV battery is with a 3-stage charger. This will charge the battery without causing harm to it.

RV Batteries Explained

An RV battery is a deep cycle unit that stores electrical power. It supplies the power to your gadgets/devices at a steady rate so that they function properly. If you don’t have a battery, the LED lighting, hot water heater, AC, microwave, radiator, and other appliances will not function.

RV batteries must be charged since they do not create their own power. If you leave your RV battery uncharged for an extended period of time, it will no longer work.

According to most RV manufacturers, you’ll need to charge your RV batteries when they get 50 to 55% drained. If you charge them consistently before they are drained too much, you can make it last for up to 10 years.

As we stated previously, an RV battery is a deep cycle unit. This is different from other types of batteries in that these deliver steady energy for instead of bursts of energy. A battery that produces power in bursts is ideal for machines/gadgets that require energy bursts to start up. On the other hand, a deep cycle battery is best for providing energy to appliances and other features in your RV.

Steps for Maintaining Your RV Batteries

If you improperly charge your batteries, you can be sure that you will decrease their lifespan and end up destroying them. However, properly charging your battery will increase it’s lifespan. Below, find the steps you need to take to maintain your RV batteries:

Disconnect Ground Wire when Plugged in

Even if your RV batteries are fully charged, they will continue to charge when they are plugged in. As mentioned, this will deplete the electrolytes. In order to avoid this, you should disconnect the ground wire when you are camping and plugged into shore power.

Keep RV Batteries Fully Charged

Experts say that when your RV batteries are fully charged- or at least have a good charge- they perform best. If they are functioning on 40% or less on a regular basis, they will not be performing optimally, and their lifespan is reduced. Therefore, if you want to ensure a long life for your batteries, you’ll want to charge them frequently.

Maintain a 45% or Greater Charge

This may seem like we’re repeating ourselves, but your RV battery will function best when it’s got a decent charge. If you drain your batteries below 45% on a regular basis, you’ll reduce their lifespan, and they will eventually get to a point where you can’t fully charge them anymore. If your battery doesn’t come with a level indicator, use a voltage indicator to check the charge status.

Switch Off Batteries When Camping Long-Term

If you plan to be camping for an extended period of time plugged into shore power, you’ll want to switch off the batteries. This will keep them from being drained by things like stereos, fire detectors, electric awnings, carbon monoxide detectors and others. You can keep your batteries healthy if you turn them off when you don’t really need them.

Monitor Electrolyte Levels

Perhaps the most important thing to do with your RV batteries in addition to maintaining their charge is to monitor the electrolyte levels. If they are low, replace them with distilled water. This will keep them healthy and prevent damage.

Keep Them Cool

If your batteries get too hot, it will destroy them. Their lifespan will be reduced. IF you go camping for extended periods in locations that are hot, keep them as cool as possible and replace electrolytes with distilled water as needed.

Avoid Overcharging Them

We’ve mentioned this a few times- but overcharging your battery will do some significant damage. Therefore, to maintain them and avoid shortening their lifespan, you’ll want to avoid overcharging them. If your batteries don’t have an indicator, you need to get one so that you can know when your battery is full, and you can stop charging it.

Cut Discharge Level

One way to protect your RV batteries is to cut the discharge level. This will help you ensure that your batteries don’t fall below a certain charge level and have an effect on the power being supplied to your appliances.

Avoid Sulfation

An RV batter maintainer/conditioner will help you avoid sulfation of your batteries. This will ensure that they continue working at their best for your RV.

Conclusion

As you can see, your RV batteries will charge when connected. However, you don’t want to overcharge them, as this will cause significant damage and decreased life expectancy. Therefore, if you are connected to shore power, you should disconnect the battery because you don’t really need them.  

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